Aretha Franklin Biography

Popularly known as ‘The Queen of Soul’, Aretha Franklin was an American singer and musician. Check out this biography to get more detailed information on her life.

Quick Facts

Birthday: March 25, 1942

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Aretha Franklin Black Women

Sun Sign: Aries

Died At Age: 76

Also Known As: Aretha Louise Franklin

Born in: Memphis, Tennessee

Famous as: Singer

Height: 1.65 m


Spouse/Ex-: Glynn Turman (m. 1978–1984), Ted White (m. 1961–1969)

father: Barbara Siggers

mother: Clarence LaVaughn Franklin

siblings: Carl Ellan Kelley, Carolyn Franklin, Erma Franklin, Rev. Cecil Franklin, Vaughn Franklin

children: Clarence Franklin, Edward Franklin, Kecalf Cunningham, Ted White Jr.

religion: Baptist

Died on: August 16, 2018

place of death: Michigan

City, States, Provinces & Districts: Tennessee

Cause of Death: Cancer

Net worth: $60 Million as of Apr 19, 2017

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Aretha Louise Franklin, known as ‘The Queen of Soul’, was the first woman ever to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was born in a religious household in Tennessee to Reverend C.L. Franklin. Her mother was a gospel singer. She was interested in music and singing from a very young age and taught herself to play the piano. Her father recognized her talent for singing and started to manage her from the time she was 14, trying to get her a deal with a record company. She was signed for the first time by Columbia Records, the association that lasted for 6 years and she became an instant international craze. Later, she signed the Atlantic records and Arista Records, the label that she stuck with for 20 good years. She was the winner of 18 Grammy Awards and has also received many American Music Awards. She had given to the world acclaimed albums like: ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You’, ‘Soul Lady’, ‘Young, Gifted & Black’, etc. She was one of the best-selling female artists of all time and had been listed twice on the ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time’ and ‘100 Greatest Singers of All Time’ lists on the Rolling Stone magazine.

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Aretha Franklin
Childhood & Early Life
  • Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Clarence LaVaughan ‘C.L.’ Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin. Her father was a Baptist preacher and mother was a gospel singer. She had 3 siblings and grew up in a religious household.
  • When Franklin was 5 years old, her family relocated to Detroit, Michigan where her father founded a Baptist church. When she was 6, her parents separated because of her father’s infamous promiscuity. Her mother moved to Buffalo.
  • When she was 10 years old, her mother died and her grandmother and aunts took care of her and her siblings. Her father was getting more and more famous for his sermons by this time and was known as the man with the ‘million-dollar voice’.
  • She started to learn how to play the piano on her own when she was only a little girl and her earliest songs were recorded at the church when she was only 14. She also used to sing on the revival tours of her father.
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  • At the age of 14, Franklin’s talent for singing was recognized by her father who started managing her, to get her a recording deal. In 1956, her first album came out under J. V. B. Records label, ‘Songs of Faith’.
  • In 1960, Franklin was signed by the Columbia Records, after she persuaded her father to let her record pop music. Her popular single ‘Today I Sung the Blues’ was released in the same year - it reached the Hot Rhythm & Blue Sellers Chart.
  • In 1961, Franklin’s debut pop album came out with Columbia Records, titled ‘Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo’. The album was an instant hit with the American listeners and the hit single ‘Rock-a-bye’ catapulted her into an international star.
  • In 1962, the same recording company released two of her albums: ‘The Electrifying Aretha Franklin’ and ‘The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin’. By this time, she was called the ‘new-star female vocalist’ by A-list magazines.
  • From 1964-1966, Franklin released various hit singles like: ‘Runnin’ Out of Fools’, ‘One Step Ahead’, ‘Cry Like a Baby’, ‘You Made Me Love You’, etc. under Columbia Records. She also appeared on shows like Hollywood A Go-Go.
  • In 1967, Aretha singed to Atlantic Records and released ‘I Never Love a Man the Way I Love You’ which topped the R&B chart and the Billboard Hot 100 with hit singles like: ‘Do Right Woman, Do Right man’, ‘Respect’, etc.
  • In 1968, she released her albums: ‘Lady Soul’ and ‘Aretha Now’ with the Atlantic Records, giving hit singles like: ‘I say a Little Prayer’, ‘Think’, etc. She also received two Grammys and SCLC Drum Beat Award for Musicians.
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  • In the 1970s, Franklin released albums like ‘Spirit in the Dark’, ‘Young, Gifted & Black’, ‘Hey Now Hey’, ‘You’, ‘Sweet Passion’ etc. She also released her first gospel album, titled ‘Amazing Grace’ during the same time.
  • During the same years, she recorded her first live album ‘Aretha Live at Fillmore West’. She gave out hit singles like: ‘Angel’, ‘Until You Come Back to Me’, ‘I’m in Love’, etc. She also worked on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Sparkle’.
  • In 1980, she signed the Arista Records and gave a memorable performance for the Queen of England at the Royal Albert Hall. She also did a cameo in the musical ‘The Blues Brothers’ in the same year.
  • During the same time, ‘Aretha’ was released. She got nominated for a Grammy for one of the singles from the album ‘I can’t Turn You Loose’. A hit single ‘United Together’ made to the number 3 on the R&B chart.
  • In 1981, Franklin released her album ‘Love All the Hurt Away’. The album included her famous duet with George Benson ‘Hold On, I’m Comin’, which eventually fetched her Grammy. It was her 11th Grammy so far.
  • In 1985, ‘Jump to It’ was released. It was a Gold standard album and a huge commercial hit after almost 7 years. The single from the album, with the same title, ranked first on ‘top 40 single on the pop charts’.
  • In 1985, she released ‘Who’s Zoomin’ Who’, which became her first platinum album and sold over a million copies. It included the hit singles like ‘Freeway of Love’ and ‘Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves’.
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  • In 1987, she released another gospel album, titled ‘One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism’, which was followed by another one ‘Through the Storm’. Around the same time her album ‘What You See is What You Sweat’ was released.
  • In 1998, her album ‘A Rose Is Still a Rose’ was released, which turned out to be of Gold standard. During the same time, Franklin gave a performance at the Grammy Awards, singing ‘Nessun Dorma’ and received an international acclaim for it.
  • From 2004-2009, Franklin released albums like: ‘So Damn Happy’, ‘Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen’ and ‘This Christmas ‘Tis of Thee’. She also performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony.
  • From 2010-2013, she recorded an album under her own label, ‘Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love’. She was honored by a degree from the Yale University. She is now working under RCA Records.
Awards & Achievements
  • Franklin was the winner of 18 Grammy Awards; she received these awards between the period of 1968-2008, for hit singles like: ‘Respect’, ‘Don’t Play That Song’, ‘Freeway of Love’, ‘Wonderful’, ‘A House is Not A Home’, ‘Chain of Fools’, etc.
  • She was the winner of 3 American Music Awards in the category of ‘Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist’, in between the years 1976-1983. She was also the first female artist ever to have been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • Franklin gave birth to her sons Clarence and Edward when she was a teenager. She never revealed the identity of their fathers. Her boys were raised by her grandmother and sister while she pursued her career in music.
  • From 1961-1969, she was married to Ted White, who was much older to her, despite objections from her father. The marriage did not work out and Franklin was subjected to domestic violence throughout their marriage.
  • In 1964, Franklin’s third son was born, Ted White, Jr., who is now famously known as Teddy Richards and is a famous musician. Four years from there, her fourth son Kecalf was born. His father is Ken Cunningham, her former manager.
  • In 1978, she married actor Glynn Turman and mothered his three children from his former marriage. The couple got divorced in 6 years time. Later in life, Franklin announced plans to marry Willie Wilkerson but called it off immediately.
  • She died of pancreatic cancer on 16 Aug 2018
  • Franklin suffered from weight problems almost all of her life.
  • She also suffered from alcoholism and was a chain smoker until 1992.
  • In 2005, she was inducted into the UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • She was honored with National Medal of Arts and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • She was famous in the 80s for wearing extravagant dresses and nightgowns in her shows and concerts.


Grammy Awards
2006 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance Winner

See the events in life of Aretha Franklin in Chronological Order

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- August 16, 2018
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